A former NBA player is pleading guilty to health insurance fraud.

Terrence Deshon Williams, a 35-year-old former NBA player who was once known for his slam dunking ability and his collection of Air Jordans, has pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni to leading a scheme to defraud the National Basketball Association Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan.

For the 2008-2009 season Williams was the much heralded senior co-captain of the University of Louisville Cardinals basketball team under the direction of Rick Pitino.  In a “USA Today” article from October 25, 2007 by Lindsey Willhite entitled “Williams, Louisville won’t sneak up on opponents,” Rick Pitino said, of Williams, “He’s very talented.  He’s a freakish athlete.”

Among the teams for which Williams played were the New Jersey Nets, the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Boston Celtics.

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 26, 2013: Terrence Williams #55 of the Boston Celtics reacts after being called for a foul against the New York Knicks during the game on March 26, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Williams pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  He could face up to twenty-two years in prison.

On August 26, 2022 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “Williams led a scheme involving more than 18 former NBA players, a dentist, a doctor, and a chiropractor, to defraud the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of millions of dollars.  Williams also impersonated others to help him take what was not his—money that belonged to the Plan.”

Sentencing is scheduled to take place on January 25, 2023.

2009 NBA Draft
FILE PHOTO: NEW YORK - JUNE 25, 2009: Terrence Williams looks on prior to the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In addition to Damian Williams, the United States Department of Justice’s investigation team included representatives from the office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and included prosecution team members Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan B. Finkel and Daniel G. Nessim.

The prosecution team alleged that Williams, who now lives in Seattle, Washington, orchestrated the plan that included more than a dozen other people.  Those accused, which include a dentist in California and a doctor in Washington, allegedly created and sent false invoices to defraud the NBA’s healthcare plan of approximately five million dollars between 2017 and 2021.

Portion of Press Release from the United States Attorney's Office (August 2022)
Portion of Press Release from the United States Attorney's Office (August 2022)

In a written release the U.S. Attorney’s office says that Williams created fraudulent invoices and letters of medical necessity authorizing medical services in exchange for kickbacks of at least $300,000.  Investigators say that some of those letters looked unusual from the beginning of the investigation, and many were not on letterhead from the medical offices from which they were purported to have originated.

In addition to the fraudulent letters, investigators said that Terrence Williams impersonated other people, pretending to be employees of the health plan’s administrative manager, even creating an e-mail account for one employee.  Through e-mail he allegedly threatened others, including at least one co-defendant.  Prosecutors say Williams received approximately $346,000 from a co-defendant.

U.S. Attorney Williams says that Terrence Williams texted threats to a witness while he was on pre-trial release after being initially charged and arrested in this case.  In the release the prosecution alleges that the threats to the witness included “that the witness was “talking way to[o] f[---]ing much,” to “shut the f[--]k up,” and “me spitting in your face is exactly what you’ll see.”  Following a motion by the Government on May 6, 2022, as a result of this obstructive conduct, Judge Caproni remanded Williams.”

As part of the plea Williams agreed to pay $2,500,000 restitution to the health plan and forfeit $653,672.55 to the United States.

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